The Corner

Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren Is Trying to Have It Both Ways

Kevin writes today on Elizabeth Warren’s plan to take over every major corporation in the United States. If you haven’t already, make sure you read it.

Naturally, I share Kevin’s horror. But I must confess to being a little amused by how pusillanimous a radical Senator Warren seems to be. Out of everyone in Congress, she is perhaps the most consistent practitioner of the “I believe in X, but I really don’t believe in X” formulation that stains so much of our politics these days. Speaking to CNBC’s Jim Cramer yesterday, Warren said this:

“I believe in markets. I believe in all of the wealth that markets produce. But markets have to have rules. And together, we decide those rules. You know, like you’ve got to have a cop on the beat.”

In and of itself, there is nothing objectionable about this statement. Markets do need rules; in a country with democratic components, those rules will ultimately be reviewed by voters; and, even in a lightly regulated economy, there would be “cops on the beat.” As a description of what she’s proposing, however, it is wholly inadequate. More than that: It is cowardly.

I see this all the time when discussing constitutional rights. “The First Amendment isn’t unlimited,” someone will say. “The Court has determined that some regulations are permissible.” And then, having stated this banal fact, they argue that we need the government to prosecute speakers whose words they consider hateful. It’s the same with the Second Amendment. “Scalia himself said that the right to be arms wasn’t infinite,” I will be assured. And then comes the proposal to ban almost every firearm in the country and embark upon a mass confiscation drive. The logic seems to be, “If something is allowed, then everything is. And that makes everything the same as something.”

“Markets need rules” is the sort of characterization you’d expect to hear from a center-right figure arguing in defense of the existence of the FDA, not from a self-professed radical advocating a nakedly corporatist power-grab of the sort that would have made Alfredo Rocco blush. There’s not much to say for Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez and her band of politically illiterate naifs, but at least they have had the common courtesy to tattoo their Jacobinism onto their foreheads. Perhaps in the belief that she can have it both ways, Elizabeth Warren has not. We are all worse off for her duplicity.

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